Expert Tips for Buying the Right Diamond Engagement Ring -

Choosing the right diamond engagement ring is a big decision and finding a truly memorable ring comes with tremendous pressure. Selecting a diamond requires a balance between quality, size, and budget — and needs to fit the style of the person who will be wearing it.

Work with an expert Keith Austin of Austin's Fine Jewelry

When it comes to deciding where to make this important purchase, it’s essential to go to someone you can trust. That person needs to know their diamonds, of course.

We went to Keith Austin of Austin’s Fine Jewelry, whose motto is “If you don’t know diamonds, know your jeweler.”

Keith Austin is Gemological Institute of America (GIA) certified and has been in the fine jewelry business for more than 35 years. His commitment to educate and serve the client makes him stand out.

How to choose a diamond engagement ring

There’s a process to buying a diamond engagement ring. Your jeweler will need to know some things to help them guide you to making the right ring.

“First, we ask if the proposal is a surprise or if the question already has been asked and answered,” Keith said. “If it is going to be a surprise, we recommend the client purchase a simple ring with one diamond.”  After the proposal has been accepted, the couple can then come to the store together to choose a wedding set.

There are many metals in which the diamond can be set. The buyer should have an idea about whether the recipient prefers white, rose, or yellow gold, or platinum or silver. Would she like a white diamond or another color — or even perhaps a colored gemstone such as a sapphire or ruby?

Of course, your jeweler will need to know the budget you have in mind.

Hand with a diamond engagement ring set.

The 4Cs of choosing a diamond

After the basics have been covered, the jeweler will discuss the 4Cs of evaluating a diamond: Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat Weight to help you find the right diamond engagement ring.


The GIA cut scale for traditional round brilliant diamonds spans from excellent to poor. The way a finished diamond is shaped dictates the way light interacts with its surfaces, influencing its allure and desirability.

Round brilliant cuts, boasting 57 facets, are the favored choice for their brilliance, although they command the highest prices. Industry experts note that the most economical diamond shapes tend to be the oval, cushion, and princess varieties.


The Gemological Institute of America’s clarity scale is composed of 11 grades, with Flawless being the pinnacle. Discovering a natural diamond devoid of imperfections is rare, as these characteristics emerge naturally during the gem’s creation. Such blemishes are crucial for gemologists to distinguish between natural and man-made diamonds.

Color Diamond color chart, useful for selecting the right color grade for a diamond engagement ring.

The Gemological Institute of America’s color chart begins with D, signifying a colorless diamond, and concludes with Z, denoting a pale yellow or brown hue.

Diamonds exhibit a spectrum of hues, from faint pink to deep brown, and even shades like cognac and champagne. The less color a diamond has, the more valuable it becomes. Yet, diamonds span all the colors of the rainbow, with the intensely hued ones being termed “fancy.”

When selecting a diamond, it’s interesting to note that our eyes might not catch the subtle differences between certain color grades. Even with precise instruments, spotting the variance between grades like D, E, and F can be challenging.

The cost of a diamond shifts with its color grade. The most colorless specimens fetch the highest prices, while those with hints of yellow or brown are generally more affordable. That said, when the color intensifies to a certain point, the value climbs again. A fancy-colored diamond can be as expensive as a nice colorless diamond, Keith explained.

Carat Weight

One carat weighs 200 milligrams, which is divided into 100 points. With cut, clarity, and color in mind, the larger the diamond’s carat weight, the higher the price.

The 4Cs provide a way to objectively compare and evaluate diamonds, but numbers alone can’t express a diamond’s spectacular beauty. That’s why you want to see any diamond you’re considering purchasing in person.

More considerations for choosing a diamond

There’s even more to consider when buying a diamond. For example, what size of diamond is best for an engagement ring? In the U.S., the national average for an engagement ring is one with a one-carat diamond. In comparison, the average is .05 to .06 carat in European countries.

If you can’t afford a larger diamond, you can select one that appears larger than it is. Shapes like the oval or cushion cut offer a larger surface area and may appear bigger than a round diamond of the same carat weight. The appearance of size also may be influenced by the size of the recipient’s hand and the setting for the stone.

If sparkle is the goal, the focus will be on cut and clarity, such as the round brilliant cut and a nearly flawless stone to reflect light.

All in all, if you want a diamond engagement ring that will hold its value, focus on cut, clarity, and color. To get personalized advice on selecting a diamond engagement ring, stop by Austin’s Fine Jewelry. While you’re there, be sure to check out the Ring Museum!


Story sponsored by AUSTIN’S FINE JEWELRY


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